Ameera Patel is an actor, theatre practitioner, poet and now a novelist too. She’s recently had her first novel Outside the Lines published by Modjaji Books, and is acting in three shows at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year.
Joburg-born Patel did a BA in theatre and performance at the University of Cape Town in 2005 and received a distinction for her master’s in creative writing at Wits in 2013. She is a founding member of the poetry collective Rite 2 Speak and has performed at local festivals and at a Heritage Day festival in Portugal.
“I call myself a storyteller because that encompasses all the things I do,” she says. “My first love has been acting and theatre-making, and writing has slowly grown on the side and is now as strong. My poetry is very personal and speaks very much to my life and womanhood, with quite a feminist slant.”
Her theatre highlights include performing in Victory, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Hot Seat Confessions, Cincinatti and Whistle Stop, which she also wrote. Whistle Stop won a Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award at The National Arts Festival in 2014 and the Pansa Best New Writer Award. She is now reviving it for this year’s Grahamstown festival, where she will also appear in two other plays, Rat Race and Scorched.
Patel’s acting has made her a familiar face on TV too, with roles in Hard Copy, Binnelanders, Sokhulu and Partners 2, Remix, Mzansi Love 3 and Generations.
Outside the Lines is a work of fiction dealing with parenthood, and is a cross between a thriller and a family drama. Patel has a child, but says the novel isn’t based on her own experiences. “There’s lot of drugs and sex, so it’s definitely not autobiographical,” she jokes.
What makes her a name to watch is the way she works comfortably with a multi-faceted approach. “I use different mediums to tell stories and I’m not completely focused on just acting. I’m also a theatre-maker and interested in the devising processes and the writing processes, and telling stories through all sorts of different mediums.” — Lesley Stones